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Because the White Sox steadfastly refuse to hire a manager via a standard interview process like functioning franchises, there has been a little too much importance placed on the selections of the last two bench coaches. Not only do they seem to get the more thorough vetting that their managerial choices avoid, but there’s also a chance that they might have to step in for one reason or another.
When the White Sox fired Mark Parent after the 2015, we paid a lot of attention to who replaced him on the bench, because there was a heightened chance that he would take over for Robin Ventura. In fact, Sandy Alomar Jr. declined to interview for the job out of respect for Ventura.
We weren’t entirely wrong. The White Sox hired Rick Renteria, then promoted Renteria to replace Ventura as manager. It just happened after the season, when Ventura’s contract had lapsed. In classic White Sox fashion, they had to wait until they had the opportunity to properly avoid interviewing any other candidates.
It’s the same situation with Tony La Russa, albeit for quite different reasons. There is the same chance that the bench coach might have to assume the main duties, although here it has to do more with a jail sentence than a firing. Moreover, the hiring might give us some clue whether the White Sox had the ability to hire respectable coaching candidates while uncertainty clouded the top of the leadership chart.
Well, here comes Miguel Cairo, formerly the minor league infielder coordinator of the Yankees. New York beat writer Lindsey Adler broke the news Thursday night, and James Fegan confirmed it.
Cairo played three years for La Russa’s Cardinals from 2001 through 2003, then added another half season in 2007, but that would minimize the breadth of his experience. He spent his 17-year career with nine different teams, then joined the Reds as a special assistant to the general manager from 2013 through 2017. He’d spent some time as a replacement bench coach for Cincinnati in 2013, but otherwise, this job represents his first full-time uniformed position since retiring as a player.
You can spin it as a La Russa hire (former player! no formal coaching experience!) or a Rick Hahn hire (front office experience! Yankees system!). What’s maybe the most curious is that Cairo would be taking the role of Joe McEwing, a player La Russa loved so much in St. Louis that he kept a pair of his spikes, and extolled as a managerial candidate in as recently as 2017. There’s a chance McEwing could shift back to third-base coach, what with Nick Capra not returning to the staff.
The White Sox haven’t formally announced Cairo, nor Ethan Katz at pitching coach, even though he was unofficially reported a week ago. Beyond that, they haven’t yet finalized their hitting coaches, assistant pitching coaches or base coaches, although Scott Merkin says Frank Menechino, Curt Hasler and Daryl Boston are expected to return. La Russa was hired three weeks and a day ago, for anybody wondering.
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Speaking of La Russa, you can purchase a Hall of Famer Baseball Person t-shirt from the Sox Machine store. Designed by good ol’ billyok, they’re $30 with shipping included, made of 100% ringspun cotton, and the proceeds from sales benefit the Schaumburg-based Alliance Against Intoxicated Motorists.
To see more details and purchase:
(Photo by Mark Goldman/Icon Sportswire)